Using animation and gamification to encourage learning

With many more teams now returning to office or at least working in a hybrid model, there is a responsibility on business leaders to manage the risks appropriately and ensure staff are kept safe. And unlike after the return to office after previous waves, businesses now also need to take vaccine status into account.

While some companies have already imposed mandatory vaccines, others may still be exploring their options - and with just over a quarter of South Africa’s adult population vaccinated so far, the country still has a way to go.

The government has indicated that at this stage, how businesses design their vaccine policies, is up to them. This is a big responsibility and requires us to engage with staff to identify where they are on their vaccine consideration journey. Vaccination generally, and even more so with Covid-19, is both a contentious topic and a deeply personal choice, so how do businesses go about starting the conversation, collecting inputs to help shape their policies, and how do they communicate this to their employees?

Simply compelling people to get vaccinated does not address the root causes of their hesitancy and around the world, we have seen attempts to incentivise vaccination, with everything from doughnuts through to free coffees, with varying levels of success.

None of these options address the real nuance of what drives people to do things like get vaccinated. What we need to do is arm people with information which addresses some of the causes of hesitancy such as misinformation, and give them a space where they can engage safely and without fear of judgement. By making that space interesting, interactive and rewarding, we can ensure that people want to be there and they want to return.

Animation and what we call “serious games” have been used for educational and training purposes in many workplaces. Our experience in this space has given us some real insight into what not only motivates people to learn more, but how to design compelling user journeys to help shift knowledge and attitudes.

For instance, animation isn't only meant for children, but can play an important role in removing personalities and politics from the bigger picture because the audience connects with a story or a character while suspending their judgement. Essentially an animated character is a neutral voice, something which is especially important when you consider how much of anti-vaccine rhetoric and vaccine hesitancy is fueled by mistrust of systems and politics. Animation also makes it simpler to visually demonstrate complex processes, like an immune response for example. This is why it is a powerful tool for learning.

People learn better when they are actively engaged with content. Playing a game provides an immersive experience and even more so when that place of engagement is on the mobile phone that people have in the palms of their hands. There is a delicate balance between skill and complexity that puts the user in a state of “flow”. When people voluntarily participate, and have to demonstrate some level of skill their engagement is heightened. The experience need not be a complex saga- even gamifying certain aspects of your engagement with your staff-like completing a quiz- can create that same level of engagement if done right. Rewarding users for their attention and their engagement as they move along the consideration journey is an important dynamic.

Last year, Sea Monster developed Point Taken, a website which combines animations, games and quizzes to combat vaccine hesitancy and misinformation. As people make their way through the content, they earn coins which they can exchange for real life rewards like prizes like travel and food vouchers, providing incentive and motivation to keep going.

The same principles apply to using games as a learning tool. No matter the subject, you want to create a safe space that is interesting, interactive and rewarding, which ensures that people are choosing to be there, engaging with the content, and that they want to return.

Useful resources:
Sea Monster
Sea Monster utilises 2D-animation and games to increase engagement, improve learning, and strengthen the impact of learning outcomes for corporates globally.
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